Fame, At Last: 'Bullet' Bob Hayes Finally Elected To Hall of Fame
DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer
January 31, 2009 2:25 PM
He was once tagged the World's Fastest Human. He has also been credited for changing the way football was played. He has a Super Bowl ring, an Olympic gold medal and a spot in the Cowboys' Ring of Honor.
Yet until Saturday, Bob Hayes' accomplishments have not been complete.
But that changed in Tampa when the "Bullet" was finally elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, along with five other players on Saturday, the eve of Super Bowl XLIII.
The 2009 Hall of Fame class will include the late Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Ralph Wilson Jr., Rod Woodson and Derrick Thomas. Woodson and Smith were the only two first-year eligible candidates to make it. The official induction will take place at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 8.
Hayes passed away in 2002 after a battle with prostate cancer and liver ailments, nearly a month after he was able to witness his induction into the Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium.
Hayes also was a finalist for the Hall of Fame in 2004, as one of the automatic finalist candidates picked by the Senior Committee. However, Hayes didn't receive the necessary 80-percent vote on that day.
But five years later, Hayes finally got his call in his home state of Florida.
"I think not only did he bring speed and a great sense of humor, but I think he brought a change, and I think that change was felt all around the world," said Hayes' sister, Lucille Hester, who also read an emotional Hall of Fame acceptance letter written by Hayes in 1999, three years before his death. "Hopefully that change caused an impact that his legacy will always entail. He changed the revolution of the (zone) defense. I think he left that. I think he left hope for others, other pigeon-toed boys on the east side of Jacksonville running up and down the streets. I think thats what he left and his impact was great."
Hayes was one of two senior candidates this year, along with Claude Humphrey. However, Humphrey was the only finalist among the seven not to get inducted.
Hayes becomes the ninth former Cowboys player to make the Hall of Fame, joining Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Bob Lilly, Randy White, Mel Renfro, Rayfield Wright, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin. The Cowboys are also represented in Canton by legendary head coach Tom Landry and former president and general manager Tex Schramm.
The Cowboys have been rather busy producing Hall of Famers here recently. There was a 10-year gap of Cowboys making the Hall between Renfro's induction in 1996 and Aikman and Wright being inducted in 2006. Irvin joined them the following year, making the Hall in 2007.
"This is a deserving honor for one of the Cowboys' most and truly gifted stars," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. "We all know he changed the game on the field, but he also brought a unique star quality to the NFL that helped make professional football the most popular sport in the world. He was a world champion in two different sports, and he had a world class heart. I couldn't be happier for Bob, he was always one of my personal favorites.
"This is a great day for Bob Hayes' legacy, his family and the Dallas Cowboys."
Hayes gives the Cowboys four former players in a four-year span, and that will certainly improve to five in five years when Emmitt Smith gets inducted in 2010 as a first-time inductee.
But this day, this year, was all about Hayes, who joins Irvin as the only receivers in Cowboys history to make the Hall of Fame.
From the sound of things, Irvin doesn't mind sharing the honor.
"It's a guy that I spent many days with in an apartment when I first got to Dallas, getting to know him and talking to him about the game and talking to him about him," Irvin said. "Talking to him about bouncing back from difficult times before I knew I'd go through some of the difficult things that I've gone through. He helped me in those matters even before I went through it. Just to be here today and be able to celebrate with his family and everybody here is huge for me."
Hayes won the 100 meters gold medal in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo with a world record of 10.0 seconds. He also helped win another gold medal that year in the 4x100 meter relay, which also produced a new world record at the time of 39.06 seconds.
Those feats helped Hayes earn the nickname "World's Fastest Human." But Hayes also became the first pure speed wide receiver in the NFL and changed the way defenses covered receivers. Because of his track-star speed, Hayes was the reason defenses started applying the zone defenses.
Hayes was a member of the Cowboys' Super Bowl VI winning team in 1971 and finished his career with 71 touchdown catches, which remains a Cowboys career record. Hayes is currently fourth in club history in receiving yards with 7,295 and he ranks seventh with 365 catches.
He has three of the Cowboys' 10 longest pass receptions, including the longest -- a 95-yard reception against Washington in 1966 -- and also ranks second in club history with an 11.1-yard average on punt returns, with three career touchdowns.
"You can get guys that have numbers and say he deserves it," Irvin said. "You can get guys that have rings and say that he deserves it. You can even have guys with a number of rings and see if he's a Hall of Famer or not. But when you have guys you had to change the game for, all these other rods or measuring things in catches, touchdowns, wins, Super Bowls and Pro Bowls are good.
"Understand this -- when you get those very few guys that they had to go into a room and come up with an idea of how to do something about this person, that's a Hall of Famer. That's got to be a Hall of Famer."